Experience is extremely useful when writing and, since writing this blog a short time ago, I have discovered that one of our most well-read authors used his to the full. He didn't like to acknowledge this and was very reticent when asked about his past but his books are full of autobiographical events.
In Great Expectations, Pip, like Dickens, dreams of becoming a gentleman; Marshalsea Prison features in Little Dorrit and Dickens' father had been sent there for three months when unable to pay his debts; Dickens visited the United States twice and came back largely unimpressed using his opinions in Martin Chuzzlewit; in Nicholas Nickleby he used his own mother as the model for the always confused Mrs Nickleby - fortunately this lady didn't realise; in the Old Curiosity Shop Dickens used the trauma of the death of his sister-in-law Mary Hogarth when writing about Little Nell and David Copperfield contains many autobiographical elements.
His early influences:
Mary Weller had been employed to look after Charles and his siblings and she was always telling stories about people such as Captain Murderer who made pies out of his wives.
Money was always an issue and, at the age of 12 Charles was sent to work in a shoe-polish factory whilst his father was in prison. He met a man there called Bob Fagin.
His other jobs before becoming a well-known writer were a law clerk - Bleak House - a court stenographer - David Copperfield - and shorthand reporter which led to the publication of the Pickwick Papers.
He was heavily involved in charitable and social issues which led to assisting in the writing of A Christmas Carol as he was very concerned with poor children who had to turn to crime in order to survive. Like himself, he wanted to introduce them to education and was a part of the Ragged School Movement.
His home life also contributed - he had 10 children, had a very public marriage breakdown and a mistress!